But it's good to know that my obsession came in handy because it gave me an idea.
In the Extreme Food Makeover, we challenge our teen participants to make over a meal; for example, I have seen teens take the typically fattening fettuccine Alfredo and make it low-fat while still tasty. Or one of the more memorable challenges was when a teen group dished up a black bean burger with sweet potato fries -- we were all impressed. To be honest, I have never made a black bean burger that tasty.
The E.F.M. is a way for us to put the teens' new cooking skills and nutrition knowledge to the test -- and I'm always amazed at the healthy and delicious results.
The bloggers -- a savvy cooking and eating bunch -- will be throwing down this weekend in the Blogger E.F.M. Later this week, I'm going to announce their challenge. What is it, you ask? Well, you'll just have to come back on Friday to see what it is! At 10 a.m., I will tweet and post on Facebook their challenge. Check us out then and follow the madness and drama online (one participant will be cooking from a Louisiana hotel room -- seriously, you can't find that on Food Network!) as they do the challenge over the weekend.
Have an idea for a secret ingredient or unhealthy dish for them to makeover? Hit the comments below! Allez cuisine!
Meet the cooks:
Colleen Berendt of Miss Petite Sweets 1) Where are you from? Grosse Pointe Farms
2) What is your day job? I work in Sales & Catering at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown.
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? I absolutely love Traffic Jam and Snug & Slow's.
4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen? You will always find fresh produce, and whole wheat flour & almond milk for healthy baking.
5) Why should you win the E.F.M.? I have been cooking and baking for as long as I can remember and have never met a delicious recipe I couldn't somehow "healthify" without losing any flavor.
6)What is your favorite food memory? My favorite food memory is going to the farmer's market with my dad to pick out fresh vegetables to make our homemade gazpacho soup and sharing it with all of our neighbors. The soup has now become legendary in the neighborhood:) (Me thinks Colleen needs to share the recipe! -Dorothy)
7) What is your favorite guilty pleasure food? Anything Chocolate
8) Why does cooking matter to you? Cooking matters to me because preparing a meal for someone is the best possible way to show someone you care. Whether it is a three course meal or a simple batch of cookies, the love that goes into it is always apparent.
Aly Darin of The Hungry Dudes (the dudette?)
1) Where are you from? Originally from Yale, Mich. - currently living in Royal Oak.
2) What's your day job? I work for myself & am a professional photographer.
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? I love Vinsetta Garage, The FlyTrap, Toast, The Emory, Cafe Muse....the list goes on and on!
4) What ingredients can we usually find in your kitchen? Fruits & veggies that are in season.
5) Why should you win the E.F.M.? I love the challenge of creating delicious food with a limited number of ingredients! That's when true kitchen creativity shines!!
6) What is your favorite food memory? The smell of my Italian grandmother's sauce - which hit you like a ton of bricks when you walked into her house. That - and grabbing a slice of Oakland bread and trying to dip into the sauce without getting caught!
7) What is your guilty pleasure food? Anything chocolate!
8) Why does cooking matter? I love that cooking is like an adventure - no matter what you're making. You can lose yourself and pour your heart into cooking - whether it is something decadent or something very health conscious. And, cooking for someone is like giving them a big hug!
Bree Glenn of The Mom With Moxie
1) Where are you from? Novi
2) What's your day job? Senior Account Executive at a PR firm.
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? Aubree’s in Northville and Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale
4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen? During the fall/winter: all the fixings for chili, beef stew and homemade chicken noodle soup. During the spring/summer: it varies.
5) Why should you win the E.F.M.? Because even though I’m not a “foodie,” I’m creative enough to come up with an awesomely healthy dish.
6) What is your fondest food memory? Waking up on cold school mornings to my mom making us a warm breakfast.
7) What is your guilty pleasure food? Pizza! Can’t you tell from my favorite local restaurants? :)
8) Why does cooking matter to you? Cooking matters because it’s just one more way I take care of my family. I’m providing the nutritional needs that will enable my son to grow up healthy and strong, and my husband to live a long and healthy life. Cooking matters because nothing brings a family together, like fun times in the kitchen. That is, after all, the number one room in the house where people congregate.
Lisa Howard of The Cultured Cook
1) Where are you from? I’m originally from Royal Oak, but I’ve also lived in San Diego, Germany, and Costa Rica.
2) What's your day job? I’m a blend of things: recipe developer, food writer, culinary speaker & cooking instructor…and also occasionally a freelance editor.
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? Due Venti in Clawson, Cocoa Tree and Inn Season in Royal Oak, and Sweet Lorraine’s in Southfield. And of course I have to give a nod to the re-opened Joe Muer’s in Detroit—I used to go to the original one all the time as a kid, and it’s a thrill to dine in the updated restaurant.
4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen? About 45 spices and herbs, chocolate in many different forms (although mostly unsweetened cocoa powder and bars of 85%), and at least a dozen different unrefined oils. I also try to keep my cheese drawer and my fruit basket populated.
5) Why should you win the E.F.M? This is probably going to sound corny, but it’s really about the fun of participation, not the winning.
6) What is your fondest food memory? Oh, there are so many! But this year’s unforgettable meal was when I dined at Alfileritos 24 in Toledo, Spain. Not only was the décor stunning and the staff incredibly friendly and accommodating (I’m a gluten-free person), the octopus carpaccio was a work of modern art: rows of small white circles on a square black plate, garnished with a drizzle of orange sauce and a sprig of fresh dill. The gluten-free tiramisu was transcendent with its meltingly rich layers of mascarpone cheese, cocoa, and espresso liqueur. And of course Toledo itself is a magical medieval city, full of winding streets and mazapán (marzipan) shops.
7) What is your guilty pleasure food? To me, quality food is never a source of guilt. By “quality,” I mean pastured/grass-fed animal products, wild-caught and sustainable seafood, whole grains, natural sweeteners, unrefined oils, and as many lovely fruits and veggies as I can get my hands on. Hence, I enjoy all of my food—even desserts—and never feel guilty.
8) Why does cooking matter to you? Cooking is so important for so many reasons: health, enjoyment, a sense of cultural connection, satisfaction, practicality (cooking saves money!), a way to express creativity, even a way to support businesses (i.e., local farmers, food producers, and markets). To cook is to live!
David Moss from Get Sauced 1) Where are you from? Detroit
2) What's your day job? Stewardship & Events Manager at the ACLU –you know, the people who came up with ‘Can’t Say it? Don’t Legislate it.’
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? Too many to count. Big fan of Bastone Brewery, Inyo Sushi, Traffic Jam & Snug, Supino’s Pizza, Seva, Pizzeria Biga, Vinsetta Garage.
4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen? Several flavored sea salts; Trader Joe’s extra virgin olive oil; assorted Asian ingredients—ponzu, Korean bbq sauce, oyster sauce, Thai chili paste, etc; homemade rub for smoking pulled pork, chicken and ribs; wine—either for cooking or drinking.
5) Why should you win the E.F.M.? Because my cuisine reigns supreme!
6) What is your fondest food memory? A major birthday celebration that my wife organized a few years ago. Five course dinner, each course paired with a different wine. Good friends, food and wine—it doesn’t get any better.
7) What is your guilty pleasure food? Chicken Shack—once or twice a year.
8) Why does cooking matter to you? I enjoy cooking because it allows me to learn about different foods, and to express my creativity. A recent month of eating a vegan diet gave me an appreciation for coming up with choices that didn’t include meat. I enjoy exploring different cultures through food, and different methods of cooking—smoked meats; grilled fish, meat and veggies; stir-frying in a wok or searing in a cast-iron skillet. There’s so much to learn, which is why cooking never gets boring.
Sandi Svoboda from Mode Shift
1) Where are you from? Grosse Pointe Park
2) What's your day job? Freelance writer when not deployed as a reservist with FEMA. Currently I am part of the recovery in Louisiana after Hurricane Isaac.
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? Foran's, Senor Lopez, Clarkston Union, Cass Cafe, Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes
4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen? Olive oil, spinach, couscous, one piece of good cheese -- even in my Louisiana hotel room...
5) Why should you win the E.F.M? I should win because not only will my dish be flavorful, healthy and economical, but it is produced in either a hotel room or a mobile office set up for the hurricane response. Not exactly the amenities of my home kitchen.
6) What is your fondest food memory? One of my fondest food memories is the first time my now husband took me to the Clarkston Union on a date, early in our dating life. Their "upscale comfort food" isn't exactly always healthy, but the place is very communal with a basic but creative menu. A favorite cooking memory is when I first made roasted carrot and leek risotto. I had never thought I could cook a dish that tasted like that. It's my go-to for company as it's totally restaurant quality. 7) What is your guilty pleasure food? Homemade Nutella ice cream. 8) Why does cooking matter to you? First because it's so important to our health. Second because it can be such an important family and community builder. Third because it has such vast implications for the planet - by choosing local and organic whenever possible, it's one little step that each person can take to make the world a little better.
Stephanie Zielinski of Cookie A Day 1) Where are you from? I am from Royal Oak where I grew up and now live with my husband and three boys. We actually live on the same street I grew up on, just a mile 1/2 mile down.
2) What's your day job? I coach a high school dance team as well as being a stay at home mom for the past 8 years.
3) What are your favorite local restaurants? One of my new favorites...Vinsetta Garage!
4) What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen? You will always find garlic, bananas, and kale in my kitchen, I go to the local market often and always buy those ingredients...even if I know I have them at home.
5) Why should you win the E.F.M.? I should win the E.F.M.C. because over the years cooking fo children I have learned to make the healthiest of foods attractive to even a 4-year-old.
6) What is your fondest food memory? My fondest food memory was learning how to make homemade pasta in my grandma's kitchen. I was with my cousin and after 5 minutes of grandma telling us we were doing thing wrong she shoved us out of the way and finished herself. We were told to only watch that time. After a few more lessons, she trusted us enough to allow us to make the pasta. I was 16. My son, Noah, who is 12 made his first plate of homemade pasta just a few weeks ago.
7) What is your guilty pleasure food? Salted Popcorn!!! I love it, make it almost every night.
8) Why does cooking matter to you? Cooking to me is more then just providing healthy food for my family. It's preserving and honoring the traditions we have and are now creating with our family. There is nothing better then sitting around a table with love ones who enjoy what you created for them or together.